As head of the Indiana Film Commission from 1992 to 2005, Jane Rulon was a vital part of the city’s cultural scene during a period of tremendous growth. She was a tireless mover and shaker behind the scenes, with an equally vivid public face.
Rulon died August 22 at age 59. The cause was ovarian cancer.
Rulon could frequently be spotted at art exhibits and local film premieres, a dashing presence in an impeccable scarf, wide smile and dazzling shock of white hair. “She exuded a certain elegance, grace and poise that’s rare in our generation,” said longtime friend Mary Lee Pappas.
Though she engaged in numerous public relations jobs over the years, it was with the Indiana Film Commission that she really left her mark. The commission, now FILM Indiana, promotes the state as a viable place to make a film, and acts as a liaison between the community and filmmakers in order to ensure smooth projects.
“You kind of just grow into this,” she said in 2002, when she graced the cover of NUVO. (She also received a NUVO Cultural Vision Award for her work with the Indiana Film Commission in 2004). “I’ve really fallen in love with this process of facilitating people who have a vision and are trying to get it up on the big screen.”
To that end, she had a remarkable knack for improvisation. Savvy local filmmakers knew to have Rulon on speed-dial if they wanted to get a road closed off for a couple of hours or speed through the process of getting permits in a particular municipality.
In perhaps the most iconic of Rulon’s problem-solving moments, she took a midnight call in 1996 from a manager for the film Going All The Way after their special low-light film stock arrived late at the airport. They had exactly six hours to complete a night shoot with the special film, and the airport was closed. Rulon called someone, someone called someone else, and the producers had their film stock within an hour.
“She was very adventurous, and everything was an event,” said longtime friend Emily Ehmer. “She’d start out New Year’s Eve at one person’s house, stop in somewhere else for dinner, then off to another party and maybe two or three more parties. People have called her quirky, and that's definitely true. She liked things to be different from the norm."
The Jazz Kitchen, where she was a longtime customer, will hold a memorial service Sept. 23 from 3 to 7 p.m.
Always one to keep an eye on the future, Rulon once noted of the film community, "We're just beginning to scratch the surface. I see so much more to come."